Elections getting worse: Bird

Papua New Guinea’s first election was in 1964.

Chairman of the Special Parliamentary Committee on the 2022 National General Elections, Allan Bird, said during that time, voters were compliant and voted in good spirit.

But as time went on, PNG’s elections started getting worse and worse. 

In a press conference at the Lae International Hotel on yesterday, Bird, who is also Governor of East Sepik, said during their initial discussions with Police Commissioner David Manning, and PNG Defence Force Commander, Major-General Mark Goina, it was forecasted that the 2027 elections will be worse.

“In terms of election violence, in terms of some of the illegal practices; they think it’s going to get worse.

“For example, Commissioner Manning em i tok olsem, in the 2017 elections, some places were marked green, planti hap em grin, especially the coastal provinces were green. The highlands provinces were red and there were a few provinces with yellow. So they already colour-coded the election hotspots.

“Come 2022, when they did the same assessment, em nogat mo grin. Olgeta hap go yellow nau.”

Bird said this is why the work of the Special Parliamentary Committee is timely as some Members of Parliament, including Prime Minister James Marape, feel that the process needs to be improved.

He outlined that after every election, reports are written and kept. However, this is the first time an inquiry is being conducted.

“For all our elections, there has never been an inquiry,” Bird continued.

““So we want to, not just fix elections but get people to understand the whole process.

“Even for myself, I’ve taken part in five elections. I never understood a lot of what goes on with the electoral commissioner, all the counting officials; I’m learning a lot myself.

“We’re looking at that whole spectrum of elections and funding to how can we make it better. Already you can see, a lot of the provinces are saying, give it to us, we can do it. We can probably do it a little bit better, we can update the electoral roll, all these things.”

The Special Parliamentary Committee on the 2022 National General Elections for Momase is hosted for two days; Thursday May 4th and Friday May 5th.

The committee recently concluded its inquiry in the regions of Southern and Highlands. It is collating data to compile recommendations on how to improve future elections.